Josh Fox Wants To Help Oil Workers … By Banning Fracking?

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Filmmaker Josh Fox is already promoting his new movie “GasWork” and framing himself as a champion of oil and gas well workers’ rights. Fox is saying he wants to protect oil workers by taking away their source of employment: hydraulic fracturing.

Fox’s new film follows Charlotte Bevins, a New Yorker whose brother was killed in 2011 by an accident at a natural gas drilling site. Fox says the movie shows the dangers of working at oil and gas sites, and exposes how workers are subjected to deadly chemicals and unsafe conditions.

“We interview many workers who have been asked to clean drill sites, transport radioactive and carcinogenic chemicals, steam-clean the inside of condensate tanks which contain harmful volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other chemicals, and have been told to do so with no safety equipment,” Fox wrote in a recent article about his movie.

The film claims that oil and gas jobs are the most dangerous in the country, and includes lines like “These are third world jobs” and “That’s not a job, that’s a death camp.”

“One worker from western Pennsylvania told us he was hired by the fracking industry in the early days of the rush to drill the Marcellus Shale to cover up toxic spills in his own community, near the forests and streams where he would hunt and fish, near the front yard where his children play,” Fox wrote.

In the movie, Dr. Theo Colborn told Fox that “the men have very poor memories, they can never relate to what to they’re doing and what they’re supposed to be doing” because of exposure to chemicals from fracking. “There is no way most of them are ever going to be able to hold down a job, not even a simple job because of their lack of attention span,” Colborn said.

Gaswork does contain interviews with people who claim to be former oil and gas workers, though two interviewees hid their identities. Fox also doesn’t tell the audience who the other former gas workers (who didn’t hide their identity) used to work for or what their expertise was. There are also no interviews with oil and gas industry representatives.

In fact, the only evidence the film gives of oil companies telling workers to cover up spills is anecdotal evidence given by workers interviewed in the film.

There’s reason to be skeptical of Fox’s movie as claims he’s made in past films, like “Gasland” and “The Sky Is Pink,” have been called into question or proven to be completely false. Irish journalist Phelim Mcaleer was one of those who found a number of errors in Fox’s past films. Now, Mcaleer has a short film out debunking “GasWork.”

“GasHoax highlights how many of Fox’s claims have been proven false, and it criticizes journalists for continuing to report new claims despite,” Mcaleer wrote for the description of his film.

So what’s wrong with “GasWork”? Mcaleer says Fox’s claim that fracking is getting workers sick and even killing them is complete rubbish. “GasHoax” features testimony from an Pennsylvania emergency medical doctor who says he’s seen “no adverse health effects from the gas industry.”

“If it was something that was really happening, I would be able to see that. And I would hear it from my colleagues,” Dr. Daniel Coster told Mcaleer in a 2012 interview for the movie “Fracknation.”

Bureau of Labor Statistics data even shows that while oil and gas industry employment has boomed in recent years because of fracking, there’s been no spike in illness, according to “GasHoax.”

Mcaleer adds that “you’re more likely to have a sick day if you’re a teacher than an oil and gas worker.”

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